Agricultural innovation in low-income tropical countries ontributes to a more effective and sustainable use of natural resources and reduces hunger and poverty through economic development in rural areas. Yet, despite numerous recent public and private initiatives to develop capacities for agricultural innovation, such in itiatives are often not well aligned with national efforts to revive existing Agricultural Innovation Systems (AIS). In an effort to improve coordination and responsiveness of Capacity Development (CD) initiatives, the G20 Agriculture Ministers requested the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to lead the development of a Tropical Agricultural Platform (TAP), which is designed to improve coherence and coordination of CD for agricultural innovation in the tropics. This paper presents a summary of the results obtained from three regional needs assessments undertaken by TAP and its partners. The surveyed tropical regions were Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Central America. The findings reveal a mismatch in all three regions between the external supply of primarily individual CD and the actual demand for institutional CD. The misalignment might be addressed by strengthening south-south and triangular collaboration and by improving the institutional capacities that would render national AIS more demand-oriented and responsive to the needs of mallholders in domestic agriculture.